Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Xin-Yun Lu named chair of neuroscience department
It is my pleasure to share that Dr. Xin-Yun Lu, an accomplished pharmacologist and molecular behavioral neuroscientist who takes on tough, pervasive conditions like depression and Alzheimer’s in the lab, is our new chair of the MCG Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine new chair of the MCG Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine effective Monday. You may remember that Dr. Lu came to us about two years ago from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she had been a faculty member since 2003. Our good partners at the Georgia Research Alliance helped us recruit Dr. Lu as a GRA Eminent Scholar in Translational Neuroscience.

The new chair studies major health concerns like depression, Alzheimer’s
We covered in these writings earlier this year advancements she is making in finding new treatment targets for depression and a new $3.5 million grant that’s enabling exploration of a possible connection between aging fat and Alzheimer’s. But what we have also witnessed is this scientist and educator is a super effective combination of energy and enthusiasm under a clear layer of calm and collaboration. She quickly found new colleagues in great places — like Drs. Neal Weintraub and David Stepp in the Vascular Biology Center — in that true multidisciplinary approach that is essential to successful science today. She is a national contributor, serving as a standing member of the National Institutes of Health Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep Study Section since 2016, and as academic editor for PLOS ONE since 2008. She is a graduate of China’s Binzhou Medical College and earned her PhD at Washington State University. I think she is a great choice to help us strengthen and integrate the essential effort to better understand our brains and the diseases that afflict. Congratulations and thank you Dr. Lu.

MCG thanks Dr. Darrell Brann for his service as interim chair
In the great tradition of service at MCG, Dr. Darrell Brann, vice chair of the neuroscience department, stepped up to lead the department during the rather long interim as we searched for a new chair. Dr. Brann, Regents professor and Virendra B. Mahesh, PhD, DPhil, Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience, is a 1990 graduate of The Graduate School here who has directed our graduate program in neuroscience since 2006. His clear commitment to the next generation has included establishing a scholarship award for outstanding graduate students. He’s a pioneer in the emerging focus to better understand the role of estrogen made by neurons (yes in male and female brains) and its potential roles in wellbeing and brain disease. You can get more perspective on the huge scope of this work in the new issue of MCG Medicine magazine. Thank you Dr. Brann.

The latest issue of MCG Medicine magazine is available
Speaking of MCG Medicine, the latest issue is in hand and you can reach out to Laurie LaChance in the dean’s office at 706-721-8799 if you need copies. We also have the brand new MCG Fact Sheet and Historical Fact Sheet that help provide a succinct perspective on our medical school’s past and present.

Dr. Scott Bohlke, the lone doctor in Brooklet, GA, is featured
In this issue of MCG Medicine you will find a cover story on our evolving 3+ Track, which we are developing to better address the very real need for more primary care physicians in the many rural areas across our state. The perspective includes a piece on 1992 graduate Dr. Scott Bohlke, who has been the only physician in the town of Brooklet, Georgia for at least 15 years and who we’d like to clone.  I have to throw in here that Dr. Bohlke also happened to play minor league baseball with the Durham Bulls and Burlington Braves for two years between his studies at the University of Georgia and coming here. In fact, as a baseball card collector, I have one of his cards. Dr. Bohlke is more living proof of the impact of our great graduates on Georgia and our 3+Track is evidence of more to come.

Dr. Jaqueline Winfield Fincher, longtime Thomson physician, is president-elect of the American College of Physicians
Look north of Brooklet and you will find Thomson, Georgia and Dr. Jaqueline Winfield Fincher. Dr. Fincher is a 1985 graduate who also completed her internal medicine residency here. She and her husband Dr. James Lemley, also a 1985 graduate who did his family medicine residency here, have been serving the Thomson community for more than 30 years. That is an invaluable contribution on its face. Here’s more. Dr. Fincher is now president-elect of the American College of Physicians, the national organization for her specialty of internal medicine. Dr. Fincher has served as governor of the college’s Georgia Chapter, and is on the national group’s Board of Regents and chairs its Medical Practice and Quality Committee. Again, life as dean clearly has its great and not-so-great moments, but any time I look up to see MCG’s graduates like Drs. Bohlke, Fincher and Lemley, it’s a great moment. Thank you all.

More than 100 rising sophomore students participating in summer research program
You know by now how I also consider it a great moment when we can connect the dots between the great graduates out there and those to come. This summer between their first and second year — which is the last “free” summer most of them will have — more than 100 of our rising sophomores are working instead on research in the Medical Scholars Program, which teams them up with our great scientists. Like Emily Moore who is working with our new neuroscience chair Dr. Lu to learn more about how adiponectin, a signaling hormone made by fat cells, might one day help with PTSD. I’m lucky enough to have Haroon Alam working with me on the effect of physical activity on vascular dementia and vascular cognitive impairment, which are becoming even more of a concern as more people survive strokes and other vascular brain injuries, and we just live longer. Overall about 75 percent of our students get involved in research. See why our graduates ultimately contribute so much?

176 new residents and fellows have joined MCG, AU Health
Since it’s summer, officially as of June 21, we also welcome a brand new group of residents and fellows to MCG and to the health system. We always hover around 520 for the total number of residents and fellows. This July that number will include 176 new trainees joining us. We also have 13 who have completed one of our residency programs, in areas like pediatrics, internal medicine and radiology, and are now staying with us for additional training in areas like pediatric critical care and vascular interventional radiology. We also have a new aging fellowship, which welcomes its very first fellow, as does interventional cardiology. We welcome each of you and thank you for choosing MCG. I was fortunate enough to come here as well for residency and fellowship and found a place of substance and soul that I chose never to leave. I believe you will find the same.

Dr. James Culver, MCG graduate, renowned ophthalmologist dies
Today, it is my honor to also share something about the great lives of two more of our graduates who just passed. The James & Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute exists to help us find better ways to understand and protect our vision. In fact, we’ve talked about cool vision science being done here in the last two issues of these writings. Today, with the recent passing of Dr. James Culver, we wanted to recognize again this great man and couple who have done so much for others. The late Dr. Culver was a native of Macon, Georgia, a 1945 graduate of MCG who was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Army Air Forces and eventually a brigadier general. He would become an ophthalmologist and eventually chief of ophthalmology at the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base. He would help take care of the eyes of astronauts. He also would become chief of the Medical Research Group-Biotechnology Office in the office of the U.S. Air Force surgeon general in Washington, DC, and ophthalmology consultant to the surgeon general. Early this century he met our ophthalmology chair Dr. Julian Nussbaum, who had a dream of the vision discovery institute, which was ultimately founded in 2008. Dr. Culver passed just two weeks shy of his 98th birthday. Thank you Dr. and Mrs. Culver for your commitment to our country and to our vision.

Dr. Carl R. Hartrampf Jr., MCG graduate, developer of the TRAM flap, dies
Finally today, we note the passing of Dr. Carl R. Hartrampf Jr., a pioneer in reconstructive plastic surgery, who in the 1980s developed the TRAM flap, which uses a small portion of abdominal tissue, which is similar to breast tissue, to reconstruct the breast after mastectomy. Development of this widely used approach for breast reconstruction, led to Dr. Hartrampf receiving the American Cancer Society Distinguished Service Award.  Dr. Hartrampf was a 1956 MCG graduate who did his postgraduate training at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Washington University, St. Louis.  He co-founded Atlanta Plastic Surgery in 1968. We send our best thoughts to the families of these two individuals who have made remarkable, lasting contributions to medicine.


Upcoming Events

July 31 – MCG Alumni Association Freshman Lunch to welcome students to the AU/UGA Medical Partnership campus, noon on campus.

Aug. 1 – MCG Alumni Association Freshman Reception in Augusta, 5 p.m., Harrison Commons

Oct. 19 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

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